Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Littlejohn gets it wrong (again)

In his column today, Richard Littlejohn says:

Following last year’s triumphant forecast of a ‘barbecue summer’, the Met Office is now predicting a ‘phew-what-a-scorcher’ August this year.

So expect a small tsunami. Better start stocking up on umbrellas, dinghies and galoshes, just in case.

This short piece seems to have been thrown in at the last minute, as several newspapers reported on a long-range weather forecast yesterday.

Unfortunately for Littlejohn, that forecast came from Positive Weather Solutions (PWS). Not the Met Office.

Oh, and the Met Office's infamous 'barbecue summer' forecast wasn't 'last year' but in 2009.

So that's two factual errors in one sentence.

In fact, PWS did predict summer 2010 would be a 'good time to get the barbecue out' - as reported in the Daily Mail under the headline 'BBQ summer ahead!'

Moreover, as Littlejohn might have heard, the Met Office announced last year:

We have therefore decided to stop issuing a UK 'seasonal forecast' four times a year. Instead, we will now publish a monthly outlook, updated on a weekly basis.

If he missed their press release, he could have read the news in the paper he writes for.

But the 2011 forecast was, in any case, less clear-cut than Littlejohn and others made out. Indeed, PWS issued a statement yesterday regarding the various media reports of their forecast:

On Monday, March 28th, 2011, PWS was quoted on the front of the Daily Telegraph with the headline 'A Barbeque August'. On the inside of The Sun, their headline read 'Summer Washout'. So two newspapers, with two different interpretations...

Whilst the Daily Star also followed the path of the Daily Telegraph, the only two newspapers which seemed to have the balance correct, and indeed the quotes correct, were the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, who quite rightly went along the lines of a mixed June and July, with August possibly [their emphasis] offering the best of the weather.

If you can see the word 'barbeque' in our August forecast, please let us know.

(Hat-tips to robaparis and uponnothing)


  1. Good to see a mention for that noted meteorological phenomenon the tsunami getting shoehorned in there as well

  2. Indeed, the concept of a 'small tsunami' strikes me as being slightly incongruous.

  3. "Positive Weather Solutions" might deserve some proper scrutiny.

    They're a pretty mysterious organization that gets a lot of attention through press releases, but doesn't seem much, or any, scientific basis for their predictions.

    Their "Senior Weather Forecaster Jonathan Powell" doesn't seem to have any actual qualifications, at least that he's willing to disclose.

    They're also climate change deniers:


  4. First comment by anonymous - brilliant. (

    This is not the same anonymous bigging up my own post, but another anonymous who just doesn't understand signing in and stuff)

  5. "Indeed, the concept of a 'small tsunami' strikes me as being slightly incongruous."

    You've clearly ever tried to bathe a dog!

  6. Maybe it's been edited, but the online column now has Positive Weather Solutions as the source rather than the Met office


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